In Massachusetts, the Family Law Court has the authority to order divorced parents to contribute something to their children’s college education expenses. Usually the court won’t deal with this at trial unless the child is nearly at the age to attend college, but many agreements will address the issue in some way.
When it comes to the payment of college education expenses, the specific language that your agreement is very important. Many agreements require parents to contribute in proportion to their incomes and abilities at the time the college bill becomes due. However, if your agreement states that you are to share equally, then that could require you to contribute one half of the cost. How educational costs are defined by the agreement could differ greatly and the specific language of your Divorce Agreement will be key to determining exactly what you are required to pay. And if you are required to pay a specific amount and you don’t you could be liable for Contempt.
If the issue of payment of college is modifiable in your agreement or defined vaguely or even not at all, then when it comes time to determine how the college education expenses are going to be split, you should try to reach agreement with your ex-spouse on this issue. Often, an uncontested agreement cannot be met. Therefore you or your attorney must file a Complaint for Modification to have the court determine contributions. If you have a specific agreement, but it is modifiable and you do not think you can afford to contribute an equal share for college, then you may want to seek modification of this clause by filing a Complaint for Modification.
If this issue is put before a Judge, many Judges are reluctant to order parents to contribute more than one-third or one half of the cost of a state school. However this also depends on the financial abilities of the parents.
Often child support and/or alimony orders may also be changed by a Judge if college education expenses are going to be added to the total support obligation.
Every situation is different and David M. Gabriel and Associates are familiar with handling College Expenses for their clients. Scheduling a consolation will allow you piece of mind and we can provide you information as to what lies ahead.